Pope Francis with faithful on the streets of Budapest Pope Francis with faithful on the streets of Budapest  (Vatican Media)

Hungary's young people appreciate Pope's "clear voice to guide them"

Father Fabry Kornel, the Director of Hungary's National Pastoral Institute, stresses the importance of Pope Francis' visit for young people, especially in an era in which it is so easy to lose their identity.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov - Budapest

Pope Francis is meeting with young people in Budapest on Saturday afternoon, the second day of his 3-day journey in Hungary. Hungary's National Pastoral Institute has been entrusted with organising the programme for young people during these day, and heading that Institute is Father Fabry Kornel. Before being Director of the Institute, Fr Kornel was the Secretary General of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, which Pope Francis attended in 2021. This Journey, in fact, he has described as being the continuation and completion of the one he underwent two years ago. 

Preparations have been long underway for the Holy Father's meeting on Saturday in the László Papp Budapest Sports Arena, which some 11,000 young people are expected to attend. While the time with Pope Francis is the main highlight, he said there will be festivities ahead of the Pope’s arrival and adoration afterward.

"It's a huge pleasure because I see the number of the youth who want to participate in this event and I know that there will likely be more young people than available seats in the stadium."

“Through Hungarian national television, everybody can follow the, the programme, given the huge interest.”

Young people need the Pope's clear voice

Fr Kornel noted that in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christus vivit, “the Pope encourages young people to be free, to be courageous and to be faithful", commenting that he believes this is very important "for the youth who are now losing their orientation in the world". Because of this, he added, "we need a clear voice, and the Pope can tell us this clear way to follow.”

Fr Kornel then added that this goes “not only for the Hungarian Catholic youth, but for all young people,” as for all young people, "there is a big danger that they might lose their identity.”

Need to know God's love for them

“If they know who they are and that they are loved by God, created by God for the eternity,” Fr Kornel continued, it can help them see clearly, and reach their goals in life.”

It is very difficult for young people nowadays, he said, because the world around them is changing very fast and they often feel as thought they have to perform. They also have pressures from social media, which often stifle having real and meaningful friendships and relationships.

“The young people are ready to hear a clear voice to show them what is really important. In Christus Vivit, the pope is encouraging the young people to live their lives, be courageous, and be involved in the Christian way of the life.”

He hopes the Pope will strengthen them in this way.

Biggest humanitarian act in Hungarian's history

The war in Ukraine, he observed, has affected the dynamic since the Pope’s 2021 stay, with Hungary offering humanitarian aid to those who had to leave the country.

“There was a huge movement in Hungary to gather food and other aid to send to Ukraine. You know that there is a Hungarian minority in the south-east part of Ukraine. We are bordering Ukraine and there were almost 1 million people who left Ukraine through Hungary, many of whom chose to stay here.”

The Church - especially through Catholic schools, parishes, and organizations - and the State, have rallied to help Ukrainians and their children.

 “It is the biggest humanitarian act in the Hungarian history", says Fr Kornel.

The 'weapon' of prayer

In the pastoral, we have to pray for the peace. "We used to do so every first Saturday of the month. We pray the rosary, and we have also created a web page, the Corpus Domini, in several languages" where people can pray online.  “We invite everybody to pray, because I'm sure personally that the prayer is our weapon", he adds.

As death and suffering envelops its northeast neighbouring Ukraine, Hungarian people, he said, faithfully pray for peace.

'I remember being with JPII'

Fr Kornel notes that around 600 Hungarians are expected to attend this year's World Youth Day to take place in August. He stresses that they are aware of the importance of meeting each other, strengthening each other in faith. "There are young people who are alone in the Church", he added, and this can help. 

Fr Kornel remembered the holiness of Hungarian saints, to whom there is a great devotion in the country, and said that their example inspires holiness in today’s young Hungarians, too.

The joining together of the young people, he said, provides them with strength and the courage, to know: “I’m not alone in my faith.”

The Hungarian saints are good examples and we have to follow them in our lives, he added

Fr Kornel then recalled when he met Pope St. John Paul II in 1991, in the great stadium with young people, when he was a teenager.

Beauty of living life as Jesus asks

"I hope that for all the young people who will participate in this encounter with the Pope, that it will be an experience they remember their whole life,” and that it fortifies “our identity, that we are Hungarian, Catholic, young people and in unity with the Pope and with the whole Church", said Fr Kornel. 

Finally, he added, that "hopefully it will produce fruits" in the lives of young people, knowing that it is okay to be Catholic, and to live their lives as Jesus asks them to.

“I hope there will be a meaningful experience for them, too, as it was to me in 1991, he concluded, adding "this, truly will make a difference".

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29 April 2023, 15:47